Saturday, 26 April 2014



After six months of internautical presence I have been swamped with questions! So to avoid repeating myself too often I have made a list of the most recurring questions and have provided some answers. If your question does not appear here then please e-mail me. IF IT DOES APPEAR HERE PLEASE DON'T DROWN MY MAIL BOX! Thank you :) 

Will you paint a miniature for me ?
That can only be answered by saying “maybe”. I know adults say this to actually mean “no”, but for me it does not mean that. I do take on commissions occasionally. Before saying yes or no I need to know what you want in detail: what model, what colour scheme, what effects, what type of basing, do you want any converting done, etc. I need this information for two reasons:
1) I need to work out the cost and time of the project
2) I need to be able to “feel” the piece. This is usually where I say I won’t take on the project because I can’t see myself achieving it. I don’t mean to be snobbish by refusing projects, but if I can’t see the end result and don’t have a good feel for the project then I won’t be able to produce it correctly and this will make me sad and will mean you have wasted your money: I don’t think either of us want that!
But it will only cost you time to send me an e-mail to find out if anything is possible J 

Do you ever teach painting or sculpting?
Yes I do! The Studio runs a Tuition Service to cater to your desires in improving your hobby enjoyment!
Simply e-mail the studio:  for details!

Do you ever paint armies on commission?
I have not yet painted an army on commission because I have never painted an army for myself to see if I am capable of doing it. There is a special talent and organisational skills in army painting which are quite different from single model painting that I specialise in. However: keep ckecking back here as I am going to test my capability at army painting very soon, and if the trial is successful then maybe I will take on armies in the future as commissions.

Will you sculpt me a piece?
The answer to this is in all ways identical to the “Will you paint a miniature for me?”. With the proviso that at the moment I am concentrating my sculpting time on a big personal project that will be posted to this blog when the time is right… If your project sounds fun and I can fit it into my schedule then we can discuss options ;)
Once again: it all starts with an e-mail! 

What paintbrushes do you use?
I am a snob when it comes to paintbrushes. For my own pleasure and showcase pieces I swear by Windsor&Newtons’ Series 7 pure kolinsky sable brushes. They cost a fortune but I have never been disappointed with them and they are a real joy to use.
For my everyday projects I use Raphaƫl 8404 acrylic brushes. These are very good and sturdy brushes that will last a very long time as long as you treat them decently and clean them regularly.
For all the weird and dangerous products that damage brushes (glues, pigments, enamel based paints etc…) I use a variety of cheap synthetic tipped brushes that are easier to clean. I could not recommend a specific brand, I just buy the cheapest brush that I can find when I need it.

What paints do you use?
I use two main brands: Citadel (old and new range) and all the Vallejo ranges. I will always buy a couple of pots from a new range to try them out because only fools never change their ways! For bizarre effects I will buy from any company that has what I need, OR I’ll make my own mixes and store them in dropper bottles.
So in fact the most honest answer is to say that I use whatever brand has what I need for the project I’m working on. It is best to skim through the tutorials to see exactly what I used for a specific effect, otherwise the answer to this one question would become a book (now that’s an idea…).

Do you use an airbrush? Which type(s)? What for?
Yes I sometimes use an airbrush and will proabably use it more in the future.
I have two airbrushes: an Evolution FX and an Infinity, both manufactured by the excellent German company Harder&Steenbeck. I have not yet tried any other brands so I do not honestly know how they compare, but I trust German precision engineering and I have always been amazed and never disappointed by the possibilities these two toys have afforded me. (For more on “airbrush insights” click here J )
As to what I use them for: a lot depends on the project. They are amazing for good basecoats, primary shadings and highlights and even in some cases detailed highlighting and shading. Again a lot depends on the piece I’m working on. Also I do not systematically use an airbrush: sometimes - often - I like to stick to the “old ways” and work only with classic paintbrushes. They can also be used for basing painting, again depending on the project and effects wanted.

Can I send you pictures of my work for help?
You can of course e-mail me pictures. However I cannot answer everyone as I already get a LOT of e-mails of this type. The best I can promise is to try and get back to you and try to help you or comment on your work, but please don’t hate me if you don’t get an answer: I try to answer everyone, but I’m a painter not a computer nerd ;) 

How can I paint like you?
The beginning of this answer will sound very haughty but please read on before judging: you can’t paint like me. Not because I’m good or special or anything like that but because no one paints like anyone else, and no one will paint like you!
The reason is that I have spent twenty years trying different techniques, products, methods, tricks, tools etc… and this has developed what you can only call a personal style. You also have your personal style. There is no secret: if you want to improve yourself and your style then pick up your brushes, a fresh model, and try a new thing! I hope the tutorials you find here help you, there are many other excellent sources on the wide wide web! Test things, experiment, do silly things that don’t make sense: as long as you enjoy yourself it will never be a waste of time! Be self-critical but not over demanding: try something, see how it looks, compare it to what you were trying to create, note the good aspects (there are ALWAYS good things in a new attempt), be honest about what you need or want to improve: and do that next time!
Time, Motivation and Enjoyment are the secrets! All the rest is, in my opinion, useful stuff that you will naturally pick up along the way.

Where do you get your inspiration?
One word answer: the World! (ok two words)
Everything you can dream of is in nature, in your head, or in the physical production of other living things. Look around you! I bet if you look around the computer screen you are reading this on you will see twenty different materials, hundreds of different colours, several shapes and objects, maybe an animal (?), you will see light playing in different ways on different items. It is all there: just open your eyes!
That said, like everyone I do look into artworks, comic books, games, story books, museums and many many other sources for inspiration. But it all starts from an idea, and usually the idea springs from what is directly around you: so open your eyes J

I’d like you to paint a piece for me: how much would it cost?
That is a question with only a variable answer. It all depends on the piece you want, the type of work you want and the time it will take. The longer it will take, the more expensive it will be.
I work on two systems. The first is that I will quote you a price and if you accept this price I will deliver the agreed piece for that agreed sum. I only do this when I can make a decent estimate of the time it will take. The second system is this: I have an hourly rate as a painter, I give you an estimate of the time necessary, this serves as a base price but remains open if the piece takes longer. My aim is to give the customer his moneys’ worth, so I will never add on time just to earn a bit more money. Honesty is always the best policy.
In both cases once a commission is agreed I keep close contact with the customer and send updates as often as possible until the piece is delivered.

Is the Hobby your professional occupation or are you a pure “leisure hobbyist”?
At the moment it is a "half-and-half" situation. Let us say that I earn pocket money with commissions. I am however working on a project to make this a full time professional activity within the coming year J

I like one of the pieces in your Gallery: can I buy it?

I very very very rarely sell the pieces I have painted for myself. Mainly because I always try something new on a piece, so I spend a lot of time on personal pieces and if I had to cost them they would be far too over-priced beacause of the time spent. But you can always ask, who knows I might be in a good mood at that particular point in time ;)

I hope these answers cover most of your queries! 
Keep on loving your Hobby!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The 5 paint pot Challenge

Well hello folks!

Todays' article is about a small idea I had: because I was travelling for the whole month of April  had a limited amount of equipment. So I decided to try to paint a piece using only the primary colours and the values (black and white).
This led to a rediscovery of aspects of colour theory that I had taken for granted. It also broadened my understanding of the interaction of paints and the basics of reactions and possible complimentations between colours.
Another part of the challenge was to buy only the five pots of paint, everything else had to be found or scrounged or borrowed. This in itself proved quite interesting as I will explain.

I set out to try this idea on a simple model I found while tidying up the stacks of miniatures I have accumulated over the years: an old Citadel Ghoul.

Here is what I started out with:

So a metal ghoul, a couple of age old files, a wooden building block, some milliput and a craft knife: the bare essentials!
So after preparing the model by filing the mould lines and resculpting the necessary areas with milliput I was faced with the problem of fixing the model with no superglue. I therefore cut a groove the same size as the foot bar into the base and then fixed the miniature into place using milliput, after it had cured the model was securely cemented to the base.

Using the spare milliput I made a simple cross to decorate the base, and squashed a few balls of putty over the base to give it a bit of a variation in sufaces.

I also created the mound in which the cross would rest when the piece was assembled finally after painting.

Then came the flocking. In keeping with the challenge I scavenged in boxes and found all this stuff!:

useful stuff: spare scalpel blades, an old tube of only just still usable PVA glue, sanding paper strips and broken plaster.
This broken plaster was perfect for flocking, and actually I quite like the texture it gives:

I finished cutting and sanding the cross, and all was ready for undercoating! With no undercoat at hand I headed for Vent Divin in Strasbourg and managed to convince the shop owner to lend me his undercoat cans. First of all I sprayed the piece in black, and then I used the Vallejo grey primer and concentrated the bursts on the model while trying to avoid hitting the base too much.

Ready to paint!
 I must say I'm not convinced by that grey primer, but the challenge implied that I would have to discover new products and techniques so this was a welcome discovery.

Now to the painting!!!

Unfortunately I could not take many step by step pictures as my battery was running low, so I will mainly tell you what I discovered during the process.

1) any colour can be created using the primary ones. This is of course theorectically possible, however it is much harder in practice. It tokk me half an hour to find my base flesh tone: skin is pink so red and white yeah? NO! You start with a 50/50 red/white mix and this doesn't look right; you add more and more white and it still doesn't look right. So then it hits you that maybe yellow and blue play a part in this, you play around with tiny amounts of these two colours added to your huge puddle of pink and progressively out comes a flesh tone, FINALLY!

2) The harmony of the piece is easy to create because of the extremely limited palette of colours. However continually using mixes you used on another part of the model, either to shade or highlight, makes for an even more harmonious piece and saves you a lot of time and confusion trying to recreate yet another odd mix from five paints.

3) glazes are your best friend! I used more glazes than usual on this skin to camouflage uneasy transitions and give depth to the piece using the limited range of starter paint pots.

4) the wet palette once again proves its' amazing usefulness by ensuring that you do have enough flesh colour for all the time you are working, instead of having to remember a recipe and recreate it every ten minutes.

There we go for the insights! An exercise such as this one can be the theme for the Studios' Colour Theory Course!

And here is the the finished piece

I will try this exercise again in the future, but with a more complicated piece: a challeng is not a challenge if you think it will be easy!

Keep on enjoying your hobby!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

My own little Katrina

Well here is the Studios' latest piece: an Eldar Farseer and the perpetrator of world cyclones!

I enjoyed this piece immensely, despite the fact that it is an eldar! I may have to paint a few other eldar models now...

Anyhow what did I do and why?

First of all I removed those spiky bits between the blade and the shaft of his spear, only because I felt that they did nothing for the model and because the light points that would have been on the various spikes would have distracted an observers attention from the rest of the model.

After having done that and re-assembled the blade to the shaft I went for a white undercoat as I usually do.
I started with a turquoise and grey colour scheme that I ended up not being happy with, so I re sprayed an undercoat and decided to try something a bit more visually technical. I decided that the model would be red. Armour and clothing would be red, the other parts were given colours to better offset and contrast with the dominating red. The technical difficulty was to make the various parts quite distinguishable and obviously made of different materials despite the fact that they were all to be red. To do this I played with the various textures and with the colours used to highlight my red.

For example the cassock was highlighted with a cold flesh tone and Space Wolf Grey; the cloak was highlighted using only the cold flesh tone; and the armour was highlighted using only Space Wolf Grey. The shadings were all performed using VMC Deep Blue, and sometimes I would add a bit of Sotek Green or black. For the shading of the armour I used Andrea Shiny black, for the cloth I used Andrea Flat black.

The gems are all based in Sotek Green, shaded down using Andrea Shiny black (to help get that little glimmer of precious stones), then highlighted using Space Wolf Grey followed by white. A heavily diluted glaze of Sotek Green smoothened the layering process, and finally a diluted coat of gloss varnish was applied to give the gems their shine. I diluted the varnish quite a bit because I only wanted the suggestion of a shine, I have found that a strong gloss on gems on a model painted using NMM does not look right: the gems look too real when compared to the metal effect, and the metal looks fake compared to the gems -> the result would have been a technical failure to create a coherent piece. In this case I am quite happy with the overall feel of the piece. [note to self: I must write a tutorial on painting gems]

The base was built up using metal wires to give a structure to the debris. I then superglued bricks and broken shards of dried milliput to these wires. Finally various flockings were applied to camouflage what could still be seen of the wires. I added a few bits of cogged wheels and plastic profiled elements such as the "I" beam and some tubing. I checked everything before adding some flocking here and there to finish off. Finally the base was undercoated in black and then, when that was dry, I applied a simple zenithal highlight by spraying a short burst of white undercoat directly from above. This is the kind of basing the Studio can teach you to do!

There you have it! A few final pictures to show him off!

Here is a link to the Work In Progress album of this piece:

Keep on enjoying all your hobby projects!

 CMON score